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The Academy Announces Winners of the Prestigious Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship

The 31-year-old fellowship has helped future writers of films like "The Glass Castle" and "Holy Rollers" break through in Hollywood.

Robin Swicord, Misan Sagay and Julia ChasmanAcademy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting Awards, Los Angeles, USA - 03 Nov 2016

Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee chair Robin Swicord with committee members Misan Sagay and Julia Chasman


With the abundance of labs and fellowships designed to give up-and-coming filmmakers a much-needed boost, the Nicholl Fellowship — launched in 1986 — still stands above the fray as being one of the most important opportunities for entry into the industry. Each of the winners receives a $35,000 prize with the understanding that they will complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year. Just as important, their winning project instantly becomes a must-read by every agency in Hollywood.

The global competition has awarded 152 fellowships to date. Recent scripts by Nicholl Fellowship alumni include “The Glass Castle” and “Holy Rollers;” additional program veterans have gone on to receive plum writing assignments in film (Pixar’s “Cars 3”) and television (Netflix’s “The Punisher”).

Nine individuals and one screenwriting team were selected as 2017 fellowship recipients from more than 7,000 submissions; the winners are listed in bold:

Vigil Chime, “Bring Back Girl”
SJ Inwards, “Jellyfish Summer”
Max Lance and Jen Bailey, “The Queen of Sleaze”
KG Rockmaker, “Last Days of Winter”
Cesar Vitale, “The Great Nothing”

The other finalists include:

Donn Kennedy, “Roll the Bones”
Lillian Wang, “P.O. Box 1142”
Sharon Walker, “The Cutting Season”
Michael A. Wright, “Still Life”
Chris Ryan Yeazel, “The Savage”

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee — chaired by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Robin Swicord, also the writer/director of this year’s “Wakefield” — evaluated the prospective fellows and voted on the winners. Additional committee members include writers Tina Gordon Chism, Larry Karaszewski, Dan Petrie Jr., Eric Roth, Misan Sagay, Kirsten Smith, and Tyger Williams; animation director Jennifer Yuh Nelson; cinematographer Steven Poster; executives Marcus Hu and Bill Mechanic; producers Stephanie Allain, Albert Berger, Julia Chasman, Julie Lynn, and Robert W. Shapiro; and sound editor Bobbi Banks.

Works by the winners will be performed at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre on Thursday, November 2 at the 2017 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Awards Presentation & Live Read. Tickets are now available here. Continuing a five-year tradition, a TBA cast of actors will read selected scenes from the honored scripts. John Cho, Cary Elwes, Aja Naomi King, and Alia Shawkat comprised the 2016 cast.

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